The state on Wednesday asked the High Court of Justice to uphold its decision to release 104 Palestinian prisoners, including some of the worst murderers with “blood on their hands” in custody to the Palestinian Authority on August 13 as part of the recently renewed peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
The state’s request was filed in response to a recent petition by the Almagor Terror Victims Association to block the prisoner release deal by preventing President Shimon Peres and OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon from issuing pardons.
In the state’s response, it noted that the government’s decision to release the 104 prisoners went to the government’s fundamental authority over affairs of state and stated that court intervention would be a significant, unjustified encroachment on that authority.
Next, the response explains the factors that went into the decision, including the government’s belief that overall the prisoner release gives Israel the potential for improving its security situation by potentially resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Recounting statements made by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during the cabinet’s four hour debate on the issue, the state noted his statements that resolving the conflict would also improve Israel’s ability to handle the ongoing unstable “Arab Spring” developments in the region as well as to better isolate threats stemming from Iran.
The state added that the release was spread out into four rounds over nine months to better ensure that each round would only occur if the Palestinian side was acting in good faith regarding its peace process obligation.
More specifically, the state said that although the first release was set for August 13, the next releases would not be for four, six and eight months respectively.
Regarding the specific prisoners to be released, the state said that most of their crimes came before the 1993 Oslo Accords, meaning at a time when Israel and the Palestinians were in an unambiguous state of conflict, and that most had already served between 20-30 year prison sentences.
The state added that if any of the prisoners violated the terms of their pardons, they would be rearrested.
Next, the state noted that the court had repeatedly upheld its authority to make prisoner release deals, including most recently during the Gilad Schalit deal, and that the state had complied with court-imposed obligations to reveal information on the release to those families that had requested information, and that the state would reveal the full list at least 48 hours before the transfer.